Home Bar Basics: Essential Glassware for Cocktails and Beer

To have a good glass of whiskey (or rum, or tequila, or, or, or, …), you need two things: the spirit of your choice and an actual glass. Yes, you could drink from the bottle, but sometimes that doesn’t go over well with the other four people who are planning to have something to drink, too.

And while you could just invest in red Solo cups the rest of your life, think about that. Do you really want to be known as that guy? No. No you don’t. Solo Cup Steve is not a becoming nickname for anyone. That’s why it’s important to invest in some decent bar glassware for the next time you want to drink something.

You might not need all of these, but having a variety will help accommodate any number of palates and choices that guests may make when you have them over.  (In addition, some of these glasses, like pints, wine glasses, and brandy snifters, can be used for cocktails as well as drinking something straight.) As far as how many, think about your own entertaining. Is it normally you and a partner? Are you inviting your guy friends over? At least two is good, but think about what you need and make a guess from there.

Pint Glass

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If you’re going to drink beer, you’re going to want pint glasses. While you can drink straight out of a bottle or can and while, in the past few years, there have been a variety of glasses designed for specific types of beer, having a couple pint glasses around are a solid option for just about any beer.

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Wine Glasses (Red, White, and Sparkling)

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Another staple, wine glasses come in two general shapes—one made for white wine (a little taller) and one made for red wine (more balloon-shaped). You can also choose from several different sizes (ranging from around eight ounces up to as many as twenty) and styles (stemless, for instance), but having a couple wine glasses for each kind will really help when you’re trying to get the most out of your vino. In addition, sparkling wine glasses are handy as they are designed to get the most out of your bubbly.

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Shot Glass

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A multi-purpose glass, the shot glass is good for everything from measuring for cocktails to pouring one out when you plan on slamming it down. Need we say more?

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Sherry Glass

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Sherry glasses usually hold three or four ounces, and are ideal for aperitifs, digestifs, and cordials. In addition, obviously, they are intended to hold sherries and other fortified wines, such as ports.

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Glencairn Glass

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If you’ve ever been to a whisky tasting, chances are you’ve used a Glencairn glass. They look like what would happen if a shot glass and a brandy snifter had a night of fun together, and they are great for drinking whiskey of all sorts. The design allows you to nose your whiskey in the proper way while still holding a healthy dram worth of the good stuff.

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Cordial Glass

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Cordial glasses, also known as liqueur glasses, are one-ounce in sized and come in a variety of shapes, almost all usually accompanied by long stems. They are used to serve, as you’ve probably already guessed, cordials and liqueurs.

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Brandy Snifter

Generic-Brandy-Snifter A commanding presence on any shelf of glassware, a brandy snifter is designed so that your hand can warm the brandy inside. The rim of the glass is narrower than the bowl so that the aromas released by the slight warming stay trapped in the glass. This is also a great option for serving whiskies and other high-end spirits.

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Collins Glass

tom collins gin cocktail

Named for its original function as the vessel for a Tom Collins (or John Collins) cocktail, the Collins glass is tall and narrow and is great for a wide variety of cocktails.

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Coupe Glass

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An open-mouthed, shallow cocktail glass, the coupe glass is great not only for cocktails, but for drinking Champagne. The glass was modeled on the breast of King Louis XV’s mistress. We’re not kidding.

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Old Fashioned Glass

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A gold standard for whiskey folks. Whether you want it neat, in an Old Fashioned, or you want something else entirely, the Old Fashioned (or rocks) glass is essential to a successful home back.

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Cocktail Glass

Vodka Martini

Call it a cocktail glass or call it a Martini glass, just don’t call it late for happy hour. Kidding. The cocktail glass works for a number of cocktails that are chilled and served up.

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Copper Mule Mug

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If you’ve had a cocktail in your life, you know what this is for: mules. Moscow, Kentucky, it doesn’t matter where the mule is coming from, this mug has pretty much one purpose other than looking nice.

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